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Financial Behavior and Perceptions Examined by Study [AUDIO]

The Fall 2012 Bank of America’s Merrill Edge Report represented an updated look at the financial concerns, priorities and behaviors of approximately 28,000,000 households in the United States.

Money in hand
Flickr User 401(K) 2012

The research revealed that America’s mass affluent, defined as individuals with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000, have a greater concern about paying for their children’s education, and many continue to push back the date of their retirement. However, more people are taking on additional control of their finances by seeking assistance in managing important tasks.

The semi-annual study showed the rising cost of health care continues to be the top concern among respondents – 84 percent, down from the 89 percent reported in Merrill Edge’s April 2012 report. The second-greatest concern from respondents, at 73 percent, was that retirement assets will not last throughout their lifetime.


The rising cost of college ranked low on the list of concerns, yet half of those surveyed said they wish they had started saving earlier for the first year of their child’s education. Nearly three in five mass affluent parents indicated they are dipping into their own personal savings to help pay for college.

An alarming 47 percent of respondents said they also plan to help pay back the college loans taken out by their children.

“That could negatively affect other things for the parents also, such as planning for their long-term retirement,” added Arthur Crist, Financial Solutions Adviser at Merrill Edge.

In fact, more than half of respondents (56 percent) admitted they are planning to retire later than the date they calculated one year ago. The survey also found that a bit over half of mass affluent Americans saved less than $250,000 so far for retirement.

On a positive note, a significant amount of respondents indicated they are taking on more financial responsibility by communicating with their spouse or seeking expert counsel.

“Sixty-nine percent of mass affluent couples are discussing their finances at least a few times per month, and 64 percent believe that these ongoing financial conversations will help them achieve their financial goals,” the study stated.

The study also showed three-quarters of people are seeking out guidance to help navigate and plan for the future.

“I think a lot of Americans and people in New Jersey have really been working to adjust their lifestyle and spending habits, and have become much more comfortable managing their day-to-day finances,” said Crist.

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